30 minutes is all you need to strengthen your posterior chain.

The posterior chain—hamstrings, calves, lower back and glutes—often misses out when you’re squeezing in a workout. But even if you only have 30 minutes, you can still give these powerhouse muscles the attention they deserve. Here’s how.

How to do it: Perform each combo of exercises as a circuit with minimal rest between sets. Rest for one minute, then repeat the circuit for the specified number of rounds. Once you have completed both circuits, finish the workout with the timed burnout exercise.

EQUIPMENT

  • Bench
  • Olympic bar with various weight plates
  • Medium-size dumbbells
  • Stop watch

Target Muscles: Calves, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, lower back.
Calories burned: Approx. 300*
Times per week: 2-3
*Based on 150-pound woman

WORKOUT COMBO 1

Reps: 15, 10, 8
Set Up: Place a loaded Olympic bar across your back and set your stance as you would for a squat: feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned out slightly, chest lifted and core tight.
Action: Push your hips back and down to lower into the squat, keeping your knees in line with your toes. Lower until thighs are parallel with the ground, then raise up half way. Lower back down into a full squat position, then press through the heels to return to standing. That’s one rep. Increase the weight with each set as the rep range decreases.

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Cycler Squat

Reps: 10 per leg
Set Up: Holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing in, stand in front of a bench that is approximately knee height.
Action: Step your right foot up onto the bench and press through the heels to come up to standing while driving your left knee upwards towards your chest. Bring the left foot directly back down to the floor. Step the right foot down behind you and lower into a lunge until your right knee almost touches the floor. That’s one rep. Alternate legs until you’ve completed all reps on each side.

Reps: 15 per leg
Set Up: Start in a split stance position by taking a large step forward with one foot. Lower into a lunge position.
Action: From the lunge, explode straight up into the air, switching legs mid-air. Land and lower into a lunge with the opposite leg forward. Alternate legs until you’ve completed all reps on each side.

Rest 60 seconds   |   Repeat for a total of three rounds

WORKOUT COMBO 2

Reps: 15
Set Up: Place the unloaded end of an Olympic bar against a wall or into a corner. Load the other end with a weight plate and stand directly in front of it, feet hip-width apart, and hold the end of the bar close to your chest.
Action: Lower into a squat keeping your elbows bent at your sides. As you come up to standing, lean forward slightly and press directly up onto your toes, squeezing your calf muscles. Lower directly back into the squat.

Reps: As many as possible on each leg
Set Up: Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you and place your heels onto a stability ball. Squeeze your glutes to raise your hips, forming a straight line with your legs. Once you are stable, raise one leg off the ball and extend it up towards the ceiling.
Action: Keeping your hips raised, squeeze your hamstrings, bend your knee and pull the ball in towards your butt with your heel. Extend your leg back out to return the ball to the start. Repeat for all reps, then switch legs.

Reps: 20
Set Up: Place a weighted bar across your back and place your feet in a wide stance, toes pointed outward.
Action: Squat down as low as you can (without rounding your back or having the weight pull you backwards). Pulse up and down slowly at the bottom of the movement before pressing up through your heels and back into the start position.

Rest 60 seconds   |   Repeat for a total of two rounds

BURNOUT

BENCH JUMPS

Timed: 30 seconds work,
15 seconds rest
Rounds: 8

Set Up: Stand approximately half a foot away from a bench (or plyo box).
Action: Lower into a squat position then explode up and onto the bench, lowering slightly into a semi squat as you land. Jump back down to the floor, directly lowering into a squat and repeat.

Routine By Rita Catolino, fitness model, coach and trainer  |  Photography by Paul Buceta